On the eve of the Fourth of July, Virginia’s state government ordered a contractor to remove a massive American flag from the side of a new office building the contractor is erecting in Richmond. The state government expressed concerns about the “safety” of workers because “protesters” might view the American flag as a “target.” An actual worker slammed the government for “letting the inmates run the asylum.”
“Over the past month we’ve seen buildings and structures around Capitol Square vandalized and flags, dumpsters, a bus and other items set ablaze during demonstrations around the city,” Dena Potter, spokeswoman for the Department of General Services, told The Washington Post. “When we saw the flag, we were concerned that it could become a target so we told the contractor to remove it.”
“They were very responsive when we asked them to remove it,” Potter added. “Of course the safety of the workers on the job and the public is our No. 1 concern, but we also did not want to see the flag damaged in any way.”
The order to strike Old Glory infuriated a subcontractor, Eric Winston of American Coatings Corp. His fireproofing company used tarps to make a supersized American flag, about as tall as a full story of the building, which is part of a $300 million project.
Winston shared the flag on Facebook.
“This is the flag that our company made out of tarps we use on buildings. We thought it would be a good idea to hang it, which we did this morning at the new General assembly job, downtown Richmond. Early on it got great reviews by all, and thank you to the [General Contractor] for allowing us to do it… BUT the GC got a call and we now have to remove it,” he wrote.
“It seems the ‘State’ deems it a target this weekend for protestors. Since when is this flag, on this weekend, IN THIS COUNTRY, a Target!! Let me guess, if I had a black lives matter flag it would be ‘ok’!?” the subcontractor wrote, sardonically. “‘F’ you & your feelings.”
“Look, Mr. Governor, Mr. Mayor, or whoever made the call, stop letting the inmates run the assylum!” Winson added. “Grow a pair, and stop thinking everything we have or had in this once great state is offensive.”
“The American Flag is a symbol of Freedom! Many men and women died to maintain this freedom, many more fought and still fight to keep this freedom, and you make us remove it??” he added. The subcontractor said he stands for American freedoms like protesting and taking a knee during the National Anthem. “That’s what this flag represents!”
“It’s bulls**t that you made us take it down, but don’t forget, your actions have consequences too! You will now see this flag hanging at the Lake and I promise you it will NOT be removed!” Winston added. “Happy Birthday America!”
It is truly outrageous that Virginia, the state that gave America both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (the author of the Declaration of Independence) would order the removal of the American flag before the Fourth of July because protesters — let’s call them what they are, violent mobs of rioters and vandals — might view it as a target. This is utterly shameful.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.